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West Patent Kindergartners Learn to Be Part of an Artistic Community

WPES artist shares his work with class

Paintbrushes danced across the page and colored pencils scratched a rainbow of colors with intention. Kindergartners in Eleana Sipowicz’s art class at West Patent Elementary School sang as they worked, experimenting with different mediums while they created their very first art portfolios.

“In our last class, students were presented with painting tools and shown how to use them, focusing on the variety of marks our brushes can make and how to ‘dance’ our brushes clean before going into a new color,” Sipowicz said, noting that students love the song and dance they learned to remember. “During this class, we met ‘magical’ crayons and colored pencils that can draw on top of paint and detail brushes. We talked about details — what they are and how they can help develop our ideas and make things more interesting.”

Students used these new skills to beautify their portfolios in any way they saw fit. Like all of Bedford Central School District’s elementary art programs, Sipowicz’s teaching approach centers on student choice, learning the processes of creating art and becoming a member of an artistic community.

“We talked about how artists envision an idea before beginning or they start by making a mark and seeing where it takes them,” Sipowicz said. “Both are important artistic processes.”At the end of the class, students met on the carpet to share their work with each other — a routine that started on the first day and became an important tradition.

“They get so much from sharing with each other!” Sipowicz said. “The share-chair routine is a place for in-process and completed work. Students can share when they feel ready.”

Miona sat in the chair and told her classmates about all of the different color lines and shapes she used.

“One line was black, one line was red and then I did another one,” she said. “I put an extra heart on it because I like hearts. And then I drew a rainbow.”

When Miona was done sharing, Sipowicz followed up by noting one of the techniques she saw her using.

“I saw that you painted a black line that was moving and then you drew on top of that line in blue and you made it brighter. It was really interesting,” she said.

When it was Ilona’s turn, Sipowicz told the students that she was “sharing with words because her work is wet.”

Ilona explained her art to classmates from memory.

“I did some purple on the back and then I put a triangle with lines on the bottom,” she said. “I really like purple. And then I was going to do a rainbow but I saw that I could make a triangle instead.”

Students were respectful of their peers, listening quietly as their friends confidently explained what they had done to create their pieces.

“By participating, they feel ownership over their work and see their unique perspective as an important part of our community,” Sipowicz said. “Students learn from reflecting on their process and they learn from listening to their peers reflect. They are also building self-awareness and a growth mindset, they are respecting differences, taking turns, building descriptive language, and articulating both process and product to their peers.”

WPES artists paint